Inside Move: CW close to clicking off button

Carsey expected to announced retirement

The last of the TV indies may soon be history: Marcy Carsey is believed to be close to announcing her retirement from active TV producing at Carsey-Werner, effectively shutting down the legendary production outfit.

As part of Carsey’s departure, the company is expected to lay off several staffers. Carsey and partner Tom Werner would maintain the company’s lucrative library — which includes series such as “The Cosby Show,” “Roseanne” and long-running Fox hit “That ’70s Show” — and continue the company’s distribution operations.

Carsey-Werner is expected to continue its film operations. Werner, meanwhile, is said to be mulling plans to launch his own independent TV shingle, perhaps with new partners.

Carsey and staffers toasted the end of the company in its current form at an emotional meeting Wednesday night at the Bistro Garden restaurant in Studio City (near C-W’s CBS Studio Center/Radford lot offices). A rep for the restaurant confirmed that Carsey-Werner held a private gathering there.

Decision to end the company has been a long time coming. Last year, Carsey-Werner mulled selling its assets or aligning with a major studio, hiring UBS Investment Bank to explore its options. The company’s assets were valued at $1 billion at least — and possibly a lot more, given new technologies and the expected demand for evergreen product.

But Carsey-Werner then announced in August that it had changed its mind and decided to keep going.

At the time, Carsey said the partners evaluated the company’s status as a stand-alone shingle every few years. Soon thereafter, longtime partner Caryn Mandabach started her own company.

With nearly 25 years under its belt, Carsey-Werner has continued to operate successfully, handling all of its overhead and covering series deficits, even as the repeal of fin-syn rules put most other indies out of business.

Company has operated leaner in recent years, however, having cut 25% of its staff in 2002. Most recently, Carsey-Werner had branched into reality TV, producing ABC series “The Scholar” with Stein/Martin and Bunim-Murray.

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